Rereading Primo Levi

Primo Levi’s If This is a Man at 70 was published in the Guardian. Philippe Sands explores the lessons of Levi’s humanity-filled holocaust memoir: was 19 when I first read If This Is a Man, and the book filled a gap created by the shadows cast across an otherwise happy childhood home by Auschwitz and Treblinka: my maternal grandparents, rare survivors of the horrors, never talked about their experiences or those who were disappeared, and in this way Levi’s account spoke directly, and personally, offering a fuller sense of matters for which words were not permitted.

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His has not been the only such book – there are others, including more recent works such as Thomas Buergenthal’s A Lucky Child, Göran Rosenberg’s A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz, and Marceline Loridan-Ivans’s But You Did Not Come Back – but it was the first. He was a messenger of detail, allowing me to see and feel matters of dread and horror: waiting for a deportation order; travelling in a cattle cart by train; descending a ramp for selection; imagining what it must be like to know you are about to be gassed and cremated; struggling for survival surrounded by people you love and hate.

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Panama Papers Judgment

Constitution Petition No. 29 of 2016 or the Panama Papers Scandal judgment was handed down today by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Panama Papers are a giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.

The Supreme Court ruled there is insufficient evidence of corruption to remove Nawaz Sharif from the role of prime minister. But it ordered a further investigation into money transfers. Questions arose over the business dealings of Mr Sharif’s family when three of his children were linked to offshore accounts in the Panama Papers leaks in 2015. News reports are available on the ruling below:

British Deputy High Commissioner Karachi Belinda Lewis Visits PIIA Library

Belinda Lewis is the British Deputy High Commissioner in Karachi. Like PIIA chairman Dr Masuma Hasan, she is a Girtonian. She visited our library on 6 April 2017. A former banker, she has also worked in cross-border law enforcement cooperation for the Department for Constitutional Affairs and has also advised the US Department of Homeland Security on bilateral and other data sharing arrangements. She has also worked for the UK Home Office. She has worked for the Ministry of Justice and also in Afghanistan. She was the former UK Deputy Ambassador to Iraq and in June 2016 she became DHC Karachi and UKTI Director for Pakistan.

Noting that annual bilateral trade between the UK and Pakistan is $1.5bn, in her article entitled The future of UK-Pakistan trade (9 April 2017) Belinda argues that:

With Pakistan, we have a shared history, a common language, similar consumer tastes and the same eye for quality: it’s no coincidence I chose to have my wedding dress made here in Pakistan. Our shared history paves the way for a stronger, closer future trading relationship to the mutual benefit of both of our countries.

Some pictures of her visit to the PIIA can be found below

Israeli Settlements Have “No Legal Validity”

On 23 December 2016, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the adoption of a Security Council of Resolution 2334 (2016) which states that the establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, have “no legal validity,” constitute a “flagrant violation” under international law and are a “major obstacle” to a two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. “The resolution is a significant step, demonstrating the Council’s much needed leadership and the international community’s collective efforts to reconfirm that the vision of two States is still achievable,” the UN chief’s spokesperson Continue reading

Dr Masuma Hasan’s Speech on Event in Memory of the Legendary Fatehyab Ali Khan

The legendary Pakistani politician Fatehyab Ali Khan (1936-2010) was for many years the Chairman of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. Speaking to the members of PIIA in a session chaired by Dr Masuma Hasan on 1 October 2016, Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said: “Today we find that we are where Fatehyab left us and have not progressed after that. Article 6 of the Constitution failed to bring a culprit, a former head of state, to book, and allowed him to leave the country.” Dr Masuma’s speech is available below.

Honour Killings

This is a great article from the Telegraph entitled My family were chasing me. We knew they wouldn’t stop. This is their law’: Inside Pakistan’s hidden world of honour killings The rest of the article can be extracted as follows: The moment Rukhsana Bibi woke up, she knew her father had come to kill her. On a hot summer’s night in Pakistan, the newlyweds had pushed their bed out into the courtyard to sleep. But it was a noise from inside the ramshackle house that caused her, just sixteen, in love and pregnant, to wake with a start. “I shouted ‘Younis Younis. Wake up! Men are inside our home’,” she remembered. “Younis woke up and tried to grab one of them. But two people held him, while another shot two bullets at me. They both hit me in my chest. Younis was resisting, so they shot him too, in the arms, legs and chest. They shot him 11 times.” Four months earlier, Rukhsana had defied her family by eloping with her teenage love. An imam’s daughter and a top student who dreamed becoming a doctor, Rukshana had waited until the day of her Continue reading

‘Trump is a Xenophobic Fascist’ says Clooney

As things begin to hot up in the US presidential election, Donald Trump is being accused of bank fraud and mafia connection by the BBC. In this piece from the Guardian, Trump is accused of fascism and xenophobia: George Clooney opens the door of the Berlin hotel lounge and shakes hands like an ambassador. “Come on in,” says this paragon of modern Hollywood: a proper, old-fashioned movie star; a producer and occasionally director of interesting, intelligent films; and a furrowed-brow liberal political activist of not inconsiderable achievement. Who else would spend the morning after the premiere of his new film, the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, confabbing with Angela Merkel about the international refugee crisis? He should be running for president, surely? Hail, Caesar! review – George Clooney bigger, broader, zanier in classic Coen caper. The Coen brothers put their signature quirky deadpan to good use in this gloriously watchable period caper about the golden era of Hollywood. Clooney chuckles indulgently. “I am a Hillary supporter. I am doing a fundraiser for her.” That’s a big endorsement; Clooney’s 2012 event for Obama raised more than $12m (£8.5m) in a single night. Continue reading